Scholarships for undocumented students


The college admissions process is overwhelming for many, but even more so for undocumented students. They face a variety of barriers, including confusion about the process, legal issues, and financial hardship. To make matters worse, many believe that they are ineligible to enroll in an American college or university. However, no state or federal laws prohibit undocumented students from earning a degree at either a private or public college, although some colleges have enacted their own admissions policies requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency. Other institutions that do accept undocumented students may, however, charge these students the higher, out-of-state fees, even if they have resided in the state their entire lives. Only 18 states currently have measures in place to ensure undocumented students are charged at the lower, in-state tuition rate. Another roadblock students face is the inability to receive federal and state financial aid, although a handful of states have offered aid to those who qualify for in-state tuition. It’s no wonder that less than 13,000 undocumented students are estimated to attend college in the United States. Thankfully, one resource has opened its doors to these students…private scholarships. Here are just a few that are currently accepting applications.

1. CustomMade Scholarship

Students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program may be eligible for this $1,000 scholarship. Students simply need to submit an essay (1,000 words or more) on why someone should buy custom furniture. Deadline: December 15.

2. Scholarship America Dream Award

Scholarship America offers a new, multi-year scholarship that increases with value as students progress through their studies. The awards are valued between $5,000 and $15,000 each year, and grow by $1,000 each year until graduation. Eligible students must be entering their sophomore year of college during the 2014-2015 academic year. Deadline: December TBA.

3. CAC Educational Scholarship Foundation

The California Association of Collectors (CAC) offers three scholarships annually ($2,500, $2,000 and $1,500) to California high school seniors. Students must complete a simple one-page application and submit an essay on the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit during college. Deadline: January 5.

4. Microsoft Minority Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who are attending a North American college (Canada, U.S. or Mexico) may receive up to a full-tuition scholarship from Microsoft. Eligible candidates will have at least a 3.0 grade point average and be pursuing a degree in a computer science/engineering field, or other technical fields, such as math or physics. Deadline: January 31.

5. La Unidad Latina Foundation Scholarship

Since 1999, the La Unidad Latina Foundation has supported outstanding students (those with a grade point average of 2.8 or higher) by providing scholarships valued between $250 and $1,000 each. These competitive scholarships are awarded to Hispanic students who are college sophomores or older, including current graduate students. Applications are accepted in the spring and the fall. Deadlines: October 15 & February 15.

Another great resource for undocumented students is the Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) website. There, students will find a downloadable list of scholarships that are available for the academic year, which is frequently updated. Some colleges also offer scholarships specifically for undocumented students, especially institutions in California. Although the road to a higher education may be a bit more treacherous for undocumented students, there are resources available to help them make their dreams a reality. Sometimes, it just takes one person to help them find their way.

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